Self-taught American photographer Seth Taras carefully describes his pictures as falling more into “strains” than a “series,” thus the distinction reflects a familiar arterial line of inspiration which flows through works taken across many years and around the globe. Whether the subjects are opulent interiors, studies of found objects on the street, or candid and often times voyeuristic profiles of beautiful people basking in the comfort of their own flesh, the photographs resist ever feeling as though they are landscapes, portraits, or street scenes rather are connected by a common “strain” of the artist’s own fascination. The narrative for the photographs after they are taken as Taras explains he “didn’t start out creating pictures with any pretenses of conclusions.” Documenting urbanity through an unflinching lens Taras does not aim to “capture people or environments as they naturally appear but rather ‘accurately’ interpret what the experience felt like.” The visceral interpretation, which Taras describes in “Horizontal and Vertical Environs” where lavish interiors, vacant cathedrals, and human forms like a biker seated on a chopper are constrained within the narrow perimeters of the frame. The scenes of urban and natural life are compressed and distorted which demands that the viewer adjust their perspective. Taras speaks to the encroaching perimeters as a “measure of distortion inherent in some of my cameras the bend of perspective.” He continues to admit that he is “less interested in visual ‘accuracy’ and more concerned with harmonizing the various elements to achieve an ideal in the frame by constraining chaos.”
In a moment marked by digital photography Seth Taras follows in the tradition of using film. Born into a family of creatives (his grandfather worked as an interior designer who created bronze and wood sculptures in spare time, while his great uncle was a renowned “Golden Age” cartoonist), for Taras art feels natural and intrinsic. The medium of film offered Taras the opportunity to “create singular and ‘unreproducable’ pictures.” While he photographs around the world, Los Angeles and New York City represent two distinct creative opportunities as unique as the cities themselves. Beginning to practice photography in New York City with black and white film, Taras built an extensive and private darkroom to learn the complexities, nuances and unexpected possibilities in film and printing. He admits to the differences in his photos from the East and West Coast by describing that “New York was dominated by the time I spent taking street pictures at all hours of the night and in Los Angeles I started exploring daylight pictures in architecture, interiors and colors in a completely new way.” While characterized by experimentation in light and darkness, the common thread that appears in the photographs is an intent desire to observe and report the world as it comes into view of the camera.
Caption for Main Image: “Horizontal Environs” by Seth Taras, image courtesy of the artist